Mobile Development for Multiple Devices with Sybase SUP

Just another day comes to an end at TechEd 2011 in Las Vegas.

I did listen to several sessions about mobile app development today and after the InnoJam winners showed their app yesterday evening at DemoJam – I took the chance today, to actually play around with the Hybrid Web Container from Sybase. If you have ever worked with tools like PhoneGap or Appcelerator, it is pretty much the same approach.

You install a little native app on the mobile device, which handles the communication between the SUP server and the mobile device, has a WebKit browser and a datalayer included. The complete development of your mobile app takes place inside the Sybase Unwired Workspace and needs pretty much no single line of coding at all. The output of this ‘development’ is deployed down to the native app on the device. The big benefit: the generarted code is build based on JQuery, HTML and CSS and so it does not only already look like a native app, by changing the CSS files you can easily change the look and feel of the mobile app and adapt it to the relevant device, resolution, etc. Even better it is possible to push data from SUP to the mobile device while using this approach. Still with no single line of code.

For sure the performance is not as good as of a native app – but you save a hughe amount of development time if you need to run your mobile app on several different device plattforms. I have to think about the User Interaction and how I can show the user, that the device needs a moment – for sure. Actually in DemoJam the developer played a little woody Woodpecker yesterday on this app – but it did not go further then the next screen. So at least it was not too bad – it just needs a little better interaction on users input and show him that something takes place.

As said the available solution as already okay to use, but there is even more to come. With the next updates of SUP, Sybase will add new features like camera support and the ability to connect other devices like RFID.

For anybody dealing with apps using the DOE-Connector approach. As good as DOE-C is, the downside is the total lack of Sybase Unwired Workspace integration. Sybase will work on this in the next months and it will even be possible to use Hybrid Web Container with DOE-C apps in one of the next releases. To be fair, it is a long long way to get there, but at least it is on their list of outstanding developments.

So if you have the need for multi plattform support of your mobile app, give this approach a try – it is at least worth to think about it. Perhaps it is even easier to bypass Netweaver Mobile 7.1 and DOE-C and connect SUP directly to your backend system, than to build several apps for different mobile devices.

to sum this up: I was really impressed about the ability this approach offers and how fast I was able to create a workable and sensefull application.